London Theatre on a Budget
Home to some of the world’s most renowned theatres and playhouses, London is a hub for all things thespian. From Shakespeare’s Globe to the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House to Sadler’s Wells, you’ll be spoilt for choice no matter what you’re after.
A common preconception when it comes to theatre in London is that it’s an expensive luxury, only able to be enjoyed on special occasions and by those who can afford it. Although there are certainly pricy options when it comes to a night at the theatre, this is not the general rule. For those looking to experience London theatre on a budget, most playhouses and performances offer concession discounts and special offers – you just have to know where to look.
Sometimes it helps to book in advance, or right at the last minute, while some productions offer reduced prices for their preview shows – such offers are often highly in demand, so be prepared to queue alongside dozens of other theatregoers.
There’s an ongoing drive within the arts industry to avoid the reputation of exclusivity and elitism, particularly for the younger generations. The industry has suffered since the beginning of the pandemic, but it’s more eager than ever to attract and excite new audiences.
Fortunately, there are a number of schemes and initiatives – some set up specifically for students – which will hopefully show you that London theatre on a budget really is possible.
Established in 1963, the National Theatre has played host to countless historically famed plays and actors. In addition to its offers for under 25s, National Theatre at Home is in its nascent years as a streaming service aimed at expanding the possibilities of theatre viewing. Although membership is a little pricier than the £5 deal, it offers home comfort and eliminates the need to spend on transport to and from the venue.
- £5 tickets for 16-18-year-olds
- £10 tickets for 19-25-year-olds
- No need to sign up for membership – just remember to take your ID to the performance. Unfortunately, these tickets are only for UK residents. This could change in the future with some petitioning!
After being put on hold due to covid restrictions, it is once again possible to purchase £5 tickets for performances at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The groundling experience is one of the best ways to do London theatre on a budget, and has huge cultural and historical significance – if you can face being on your feet for that long…
- £5 standing tickets: it might mean some achy limbs, but it’s worth it to see some of the best theatre in the country. These tickets are available for all performances.
The Young Vic
Originally set up as a branch of the Old Vic with the intention of attracting children and teenagers, the Young Vic is drama made by young people, for young people. They have a number of concession and special offer tickets available, as well as a whole host of schemes aimed at encouraging those interested in theatre to pursue their dramatic dreams.
- Under 25s: For each production, a select number of £10 tickets are released for full-time students and anyone under 25. They’re snapped up quickly, so book in advance to make the most of this offer.
- £5 preview tickets: These are available for the first preview run of every performance. Anyone is able to purchase these tickets, so keep an eye on the website to avoid missing out.
- £10 lucky dip tickets: Purchase standing tickets for just £10, and you might get lucky enough to be upgraded to a seating position.
Royal Shakespeare Company
Different to Shakespeare’s Globe, the Stratford-Upon-Avon based Royal Shakespeare’s Company has its own set of concession discounts. The offers are applicable to the performances across their London and Stratford-Upon-Avon venues, with a huge selection to choose from.
- TikTok £10: In partnership with the social media giant, the RSC is hoping to inspire a new generation of audience with £10 tickets for full-time students or anyone aged 14-25. They also offer exclusive events and backstage content for anyone who registers.
- £5 tickets for those aged 14-25: This reduced price is available for select performances across the Stratford-Upon-Avon locations.
- £10 tickets for those aged 14-25: These tickets are available for use at the Barbican venue.
You probably won’t have heard of this place, so take this as your sign to check it out. The Donmar Warehouse, located in Covent Garden, is a hub for upcoming talent and classic shows alike. It functions as a not-for-profit theatre with the desire to share the artistry, imagination, and freedom of theatre to as wide an audience as possible.
- Free tickets! Anyone aged 16-25 can sign up for the Donmar mailing list to be entered into the Young+Free ballot. If selected, you can book up to two tickets at absolutely no cost.
- Even if you don’t get lucky on the ballot, ticket prices start from £10 for all performances. There’s a ticket release every morning Monday to Saturday, so there’s a good chance of securing a deal.
Whether it’s a Shakespeare classic or contemporary adaptation you’re hoping to catch, there are myriad ways you can find tickets at a reduced cost. London theatre on a budget is more than possible, and might even end up becoming one of the most memorable parts of your time in the city.